So I have a race this weekend. While I had signed up for it earlier this year, it wasn’t until this week that I was 100% sure whether I was going to run it or not. I had some family obligations that might have precluded me from running it, but I got them sorted out and am now cleared to go run around the Maryland suburbs for 10-12 hours. Even excluding my undecided status, it’s been hard for me to get too excited about the run. I was borderline injured (I think/fear) coming out of Boulder Field 100K back in September so have not been training. Instead I’ve been putting up 10-20 mile weeks with no runs longer than 5 miles. I feel OK at this point and while I’m relatively confident in saying I’m healthy, I’m not confident in saying that I have enough endurance left to run 50 miles without getting injured. I’ve always (you know, always dating back to when I started doing ultras several years back) said that it’s better to be 100% healthy and under-trained than 90% healthy and 100% trained for a race. So Saturday will be a great experiment as I put this to the test. I’m really, really, really hoping that I’ve been right for the past couple years. I’m also hoping that I’m right that I’m not injured.
Another thing that now has me “meh” about this race is the weather. When I initially checked the 10 day forecast, it was supposed to be a low of about 40 and highs in the mid-50s. You know, just about perfect running weather. Now the forecast is calling for a low of 20 degrees and a high of 40. What the heck?!?! The temperatures have been so mild this fall that the coldest run I’ve done so far has been 38.3 degrees. This is going to be the high for the day, not the low. Now I have to remember what my sub-30 degree running clothes are and then decide whether I need to wear all that or if I can suck it up until the temperatures get back above 30 degrees. Bother.
And if both of those “issues” weren’t bad enough, I have some history with this race. Things didn’t go all that well the first time I ran it back in 2014. That’s most certainly an understatement as it was probably my worst race performance ever even including my DNF at the 2015 C&O Canal. While the race was a great learning experience for me, it wasn’t a painless lesson and part of me wonders if I have that to look forward to again. I would like to think that I’m an older and wiser runner now, but I’ve repeated mistakes enough times to know that I’ll probably repeat several of them many more times before I hang up my trail shoes.
All that is a long way to say that my only goal is to enjoy myself. If I can have fun out there, then I know I’ll be able to finish. It would be lying to say I don’t care entirely about my time. Of course, I do. Doing better than the 9:37 I posted three years ago would validate that I’m a better ultra runner than I was before. And part of me
needs wants this validation. I’ve put a lot of time and effort into this hobby and I’d hate to think that it was all for naught. But looking at finishing times isn’t the correct way to determine the worth of a run or an experience. There’s so much more value to running long distances than the time it took you compared to the time it took in years past. You can fight Father Time, but you can’t beat him. Not in the end. But you can enjoy a run through woods. And if it takes a little longer than the last time? Well, then that just means I got my money’s worth.